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Catawba Holds Opening Convocation

September 8, 2004

Category: Academics, Events

Catawba College President Robert E. Knott officially convened the college for its 153rd academic year September 2 in the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.   At the convocation, college faculty and staff members were recognized for their years of service to the institution.

Knott encouraged those gathered "to think large about who we are and what we can become."   He said the college was entering a year of transition and in the process of developing and implementing a quality enhancement plan "designed to strengthen us in some measurable ways for our future."

One component of the quality enhancement plan, he said, is an analysis of the First Year Experience at Catawba that helps freshmen students make a successful transition from high school to college.   He said that program was responsible in part for an increase in the college’s freshmen to sophomore retention rate.   From the 2003-2004 to the 2004-2005 academic year, that rate increased to 76 percent, the highest retention rate recorded at the college in over 30 years.

Another point to be addressed in this transitional year, Knott said, was to incorporate the focus of vocation and value throughout all college experiences.


"We are who we are today because of the dedicated service these folks have given us today," Knott said of those honored. Two employees, recognized for 40 years of service to Catawba, were Bruce Griffith, professor of history, and Pat Whitley, professor of physical education and recreation.

Bethany Sinnott, a professor of English, was recognized for 35 years of service, while Michael Baranski, a professor of biology, and Sandra Roseman, an administrative assistant for the humanities department, were cited for 30 years of service.

Those recognized for 20 years of service included Dennis Davidson, athletic director; Bill Haggerty, assistant coach of men’s basketball and head cross country coach; and Janice Fuller, writer-in-residence and professor of English.

Recognized for 15 years of service were Geraldine Mitchell, manager of custodial services; Sylvia Shepherd, business office cashier; Julie Chamberlain, director of community music; Ken Clapp, chaplain and director of Catawba’s Lilly Center; and Sandra Owen, custodian.

Employees cited for 10 years of service included Carol Miderski, professor of chemistry; Jim Gantt, head baseball coach; Nan Whitley, assistant athletic director and head women’s softball coach; Gary Freeze, associate professor of history; Tim Moreland, associate professor of communication arts; John Zerger, associate professor of mathematics; and Ron Venable, accountant,

Those college employees recognized for five years of service included James Allison, custodian; Howard Collins, maintenance; Margie Perry, custodian; Elaine Carothers, administrative assistant in Ketner Hall; Sharon Miller, controller; Michael Overcash, maintenance; Michael Eden, Jr., instructor in physical education; Charlesetta Dawson, assistant professor of teacher education; Cynthia Wittum, instructor of communication arts; and Jane Young, coordinator of admissions records.

The Length of Service Recognition Program was a project of the college’s Staff Personnel Committee.


Fifteen junior class students were recognized during Opening Convocation for both their academic achievements and their willingness to serve the college as Junior Marshals.

Each year, Junior Marshals are chosen from the rising junior class on the basis of academic excellence.   They officially represent the college in the formal ceremonies of the academic year, including Opening Convocation, Awards Convocation, Baccalaureate and Commencement, where they add order and dignity to the proceedings.   Additionally, the Junior Marshals serve at other college functions such as the Service of Lessons and Carols, special assemblies and presidential social gatherings.

Junior Marshals for the 2004-2005 academic year include Julie Ann Bahr, a political science major from Uniontown, Ohio; Cathrine Bennett Balentine, a psychology major from Charlotte; Terri Ann Boyd, a therapeutic recreation major from Jacksonville, Vt.; Faith Elisabeth Clapp, a environmental science major from Whitsett; Geoffrey George Fouad, an environmental science major from Simpsonville, S.C.; Sara Renae Gray, a middle school education major from Mt. Pleasant; Erin Christina Hyde, an athletic training major from Lilburn, Ga.; Stacey Marie Lentz, an elementary education major from Kannapolis; Stephanie Ann Morey, a sociology major from Ephrata, Pa.; April Dawn Naylor, a music major from Mocksville; Danielle Renee Scearce, an elementary education major from Salisbury; Jessica Lynn Smith, an English major from Westfield; Andrew Robert Sufficool, an athletic training major from Brooksville, Fla.; Anthony Cole Weddington, a chemistry major from Salisbury; and Summer Kari Zuck, an elementary education major from Kinston, Tenn.

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